[5th and last in a series about God’s provision]
By far, the best part of this whole experience is not how God provided for our every need—and even some wants. Yes, that was amazing. I am thankful, grateful. But that was just the physical outworking of an inner transformation.
Some of what we’ve learned was relatively straightforward. Material possessions do not create happiness. New stuff isn’t necessary. In fact, God put me on a “stuff diet.” Not only did we avoid shopping, we cleaned out closets. For several years, we took joy each day in finding three things we owned and giving them away. The surprise? It was easy. We recommend this as a wonderful way to count your blessings while blessing others.
On the other hand, we learned that receiving is hard. As our friends and family blessed us, we had to learn humility to be good receivers.
My biggest lesson, however, was much harder to grasp.
At one point, I was feeling overwhelmed with cares, overloaded with too much to do, and generally hopeless. The stress level was well past the ceiling and headed for the moon. Then, God gave me a vision. I imagined myself running hither and yon, all around the house, like a headless chicken. God was following me around, right on my heels, with a wooden chair. All He wanted me to do was to stop and sit down, there in His chair. He would carry the chair. I needed to rest.
I have learned that I can sit in God’s chair. Anywhere, anytime, no matter the circumstances, He is right behind me. His strong arms are holding the chair. I just need to sit down. I do the chores He assigns me. He carries the weight of responsibility. (See the previous posting: Sitting in God’s Chair.)
Last summer, we received several grants that covered a significant percentage of ICTA’s ministry over the next year. Money for office expenses. Funding for program development and outreach. Regular paychecks.
I should have rejoiced. And in some ways, I did. It’s so much easier to arrange my bills to be paid when it’s convenient for me, rather than arranging my schedule around being available for last minute transactions. I bought some much-needed new clothes. We were able to give to several ministries we feel led to support financially. Pete and I are arranged a retreat weekend, just the two of us. And I splurged and came home with a fifty pound bag of sunflower seeds for the birds. Having lots of wild birds in the yard is one of my biggest pleasures.
On the other hand, I was disappointed. I’d come to treasure the close reliance on God that resulted from our constrained financial situation. I don’t want anything to come between me and my Heavenly Father. If I don’t have necessity disciplining me to pray for my daily bread, will I still do it? In some sense, this is a bigger test than learning to trust in the first place. Can I maintain that trust when times are good?
Of course, these grants won’t last forever. While he takes advantage of our current provision to work on new ministry materials and outreach opportunities, Pete is working hard on securing the next round of funding. We don’t know what the future holds. But, as the song goes, we know Who holds the future.